Friday, October 04, 2013

Brain and Song Structure in Zebra Finches Are Strongly Influenced by the Environment

A central topic in behavioral biology is the question, which aspects of a behavior are learned or expressed due to genetic predisposition. Today it is known that our personality and behavior are far less determined by the genetic background. Especially during development environmental factors can shape brain and behavior via so-called epigenetic effects. Thereby hormones play an important role. A shift in hormone concentrations in early life can have long lasting effects for an organism, whereas the same change in adults often may show only short-term changes. However, whether the influence of the environment has either strong or weak effects can largely depend on the individual genetic predisposition. However, it is relatively hard to discriminate the effects of the environment from that of the genes. An attempt to tease apart these effects has been conducted by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in collaboration with an international team of scientists in zebra finch breeding pairs. more

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